Though I lead retreats regularly, I rarely get to attend one as a retreatant. Every year the Badger pays for me to go with him to his church parish weekend, and that’s usually the sum total. But last year I went to a retreat at Penhurst, exploring prayer and writing.
This morning, sorting through my belongings on the usual hunt for things to chuck out, I came upon two journals – one a bullet journal I started, the other meant to be a kind of thinking journal or something. Anyway, journals aren’t really me, I’m no Thomas Merton; and, though I gave bullet journaling a good go, I still prefer keeping my diary in my computer. It has the added advantage that when people ask me to do things I have to say, “I don’t know. Can I tell you later?”
But I’ll keep the journals until they’re full, using them to make notes on things. I like reporters notebooks best, but the journals will do until they’re used up.
Anyway, at this retreat I went to, I took one of these journals along, and we had to do a couple of writing exercises – which I wrote down in the journal I came across today.
The first one was that we had to write our own version of the Beatitudes. Obviously upstaging Jesus is a dubious endeavor, but at least it makes him laugh. Here was mine.
BEATITUDES OF SIMPLICITY, SILENCE & SOLITUDE
How blessed are they who live simply,
For status, power and wealth are burdensome,
Clutter is time-consuming, and in complication is infinite weariness.
How blessed are the frugal,
For they can afford to be generous, they are not demanding,
And they sidestep the demon of worry.
How blessed are they who can let go,
For they walk free from the encumbering of possessions,
Their daily routines are peaceful, and they give other people space.
How blessed are they who speak softly,
Not an annoying mumble I mean, but without stridency or aggression –
For they can be heard better than those who harshly insist.
How blessed are they who move quietly,
Mindful of how they walk, handle objects, close doors and blow their noses –
For they are very nice to live with.
How blessed are they who spend long hours in silence,
For silence fosters the living Word,
In silence the Word matures – silence offers space to think again.
How blessed are they who are content in their own company,
For they are restful to those they encounter.
How blessed are they who accept the essential solitude of every human being,
For they make peace with the grief of exile,
The existential loneliness of the human condition.
How blessed are they who do not seek attention,
Who pass through life as unobtrusively as moving light.